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Fireflies and firepits

Thursday, June 30, 2011
Today, I witnessed the beauty of a baby's face while he was still in the womb. Baby Steffen is going to be one of the most gorgeous babies ever. And, I am NOT biased. ;)

Today, I thought about the birth of my own two babies when thinking about Rebecca's pending labor and delivery (and praying for a July 2nd birth). And I looked at my kids and realized how fast it has gone by. 

Today, a blog post by Dawn, talking about breaking all the rules, reminded me that, despite the growth of my babies, we can all still enjoy acting like children. 

So, today, I got inspired to mark off a list item... catching fireflies with my kiddos. 

We lit a fire in the fire pit (which I can tell you was harder than I expected it to be... I'm not as country as I always thought I was. haha). 

We roasted a couple of marshmallows.

And, we waited until it was almost dark. Then, they appeared. 


If I could have taken a good photo of them, I would have. But, instead, I helped the kids, running through the yard like a kid... mason jar in hand. 

We caught ten fireflies before we stopped. And we watched them light up our jar for a few minutes. Then, we took off the lid and we counted them all as they flew out. 

Then, we sat around the fire for about 2 seconds. Or maybe it was a half second. :) And the kids were ready to move on. I, on the other hand, could have sat there all night with them beside me, watching the fire. Yet, that day will come... the day where we will all sit around the fire for hours, just happy to be there. I hope. :) I'm close to getting there with Bailey. She sat there with me briefly... just talking and making silly faces. 

Until then, I will act like a kid and embrace their childhood just a bit more. :) 

Catching Up... version 1000

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Since I've finally decided to blog about our vacation, I guess it's time to do the wonderfully fun thing of trying to get caught up on the rest of our lives! 

Bailey and Jake are loving their summer, despite the fact that it feels as if it is slipping further and further away, faster and faster. 

Upon arriving home from our vacation, we finished out our t-ball tournament (read more about that here). Then, it was time for Bailey to shift gears and become more dramatic. I know. I never thought I'd ever encourage more drama from the queen of drama in our house, but I did. I put her in theatre camp for a week at the completely, awesome, wonderful Lexington Children's Theatre. I would love to post the video of Bailey and her class performance, because it is quite adorable, but they've asked that we don't make that video public online. So... trust me when I say it was incredibly cute. Even Jake was interested in theatre camp after seeing her perform. If only they had a superhero session (hint, Lesley!). :) 

During Bailey's week at theatre camp, Jake spent a week with Morgan, his babysitter, enjoying running around Lexington, visiting his friends, swimming at the pool, and, of course, training Morgan on all things superhero-related. 

We had a great fun-filled night on Friday night, as we had promised a certain super-hero obsessed little boy a trip to the movies to see The Green Lantern. Sitting in the back of the truck, under the stars at the drive in, we watched about half of the movie before both kids were sound asleep. Who could blame them though? They had a big week... then they spent the entire evening chasing a football with their friends Logan and Cash while waiting for the movie to start. So, Brad and I snuggled up together (a rarity for us at the movies) and giggled to The Hangover 2. Friends, family, and a date. Does it get any better?

As if we didn't have enough going on in our lives, I have been wanting to continue with tennis lessons for the kids. So, I ran across a session that worked perfectly for our schedule and signed them up. They had their first lesson on Saturday. They loved it. Bailey wants to destroy the ball. If she gains some control, I wouldn't want to be on the other side of the net. She's incredibly strong for her age. She just has no control yet. :) Jake also enjoyed tennis, taking his time to listen to the teachers and really working on what they asked him to do. If you are interested, let me know and I can give you info... they didn't have a huge turn out on Saturday and I want to make sure they keep doing this! :)

Sunday was a relaxing day at home, with our friends, Shane, Tatiana, and Dina coming over for a cookout. As I mention in our OCRO blog What I love Wednesdays, we are really enjoying spending time with some of our "newer" friends. It's incredible to me how many wonderful people we have in our lives, from Carol and Casilee hanging out with us at the drive in on Friday, to Shane and his family on Sunday, from Joy and her family coming over this coming Friday, to the many little girls (and a couple of boys) that Bailey is planning play dates with this summer. Oh... and the slumber party for Jake, Joseph, and Jackson that we have to have before Jackson moves (I'm not even posting about that right now, since I'm in denial that they are leaving us). Life is so good. And, that's not even including the awesome people in our lives for many years... and the many other people I need to get back to regarding dates for us to play and our kids to play (ah-hem, Kristyn). :)

This week has been slower. Thankfully. We spent most of Monday in our pjs, reading books in the bed during a thunderstorm, playing school, and playing on the Kinect. It was a much-needed recovery day for all of us (except poor Brad who was up and at 'em at 5:30 a.m.). We still managed to get outside and over to the pool each night this week. 

Running has been basically nonexistent for me since the half. I've run at various points for a day or so, but nothing consistent. I'm needing motivation... and I'm not really sure why. I just feel kind of burned out on it. At first, I thought I just needed a break after focusing so much energy on the half (emotionally and physically). Then, I just thought it was because we had so much with t-ball, Cilla's baby shower (read more about that here), and planning for vacation. Now, I honestly think it has a lot to do with my mental state over my vacation ending. LOL. I seriously just have not been able to move past that. So... maybe this week will bring new things, since I finally did run tonight. And, it was a good run, even if I feel really out of shape.

To end on a really, incredibly happy note, this weekend is a long weekend. Yes, I know you all think, "You have long weekends every week." BUT... Brad doesn't. So, it's great. We are heading to eastern Kentucky to spend time with our families, hang out on the boat for as much as possible, and camp out with our kids. Yes, another list item will come down... and we are going to have a great holiday. 

Then, a week of fun for the kids as they stay with grandparents all week long. Brad and I will get a date night on our 8 year wedding anniversary... and hopefully a night to double-date with some of our very close friends. All very wonderful and much needed things. :) Oh... and there is also the topic of one very special lady's little baby being born at some point in the next week. C'mon Rebecca and baby Price 2.0. I can't wait to meet you. :) 

We are so blessed (and yes, Brandon, that line is totally for you, even if you don't read my post!). :) 

Our Vacation Re-cap

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I can’t really seem to figure out why I can’t write about our vacation. I think it’s because I’m sad that it’s over… part of me still holding onto the idea that it won’t really be over until I write about it… as if I’m closing that chapter by blogging it.  

It has been more than a week since we got home. And, yet, I still don't want to admit it is over. But, alas, it is. And, I'm getting further behind by avoiding blogging this, because, as always, life keeps going on in full speed. :) 

Maybe another reason that I can't seem to get motivated to post about vacation is because my camera was broken on our first day of arriving in Florida. And, what would this post be like without beautiful photos of the beach and my sun-kissed babies? But... well... no pictures yet. Ok. So, I have a few pics from our cell phone cameras. I'll include those. Still... not happy that the ones I really loved are stuck on a camera that I haven't been able to turn on. Ugh.

It was a great vacation. I was a little nervous about how it would go… traveling to Charleston, South Carolina first, staying a couple of days, and then traveling some more to get to Dunedin, Florida. I was worried we wouldn’t feel rested… that it would feel like we were running around too much.  

I was worried for no reason. Was it our most relaxing beach vacation? Well, no. The travel did break it up a little. But, was it worth it? Yes. Definitely. Charleston was more beautiful than I expected it to be. Honestly, I could have stayed there an entire week and probably still would not have been ready to come home. It was so charming… so cute… yet it still had all the luxury of a larger city and the feel of a real tourist destination without a ridiculous amount of traffic or waiting. We spent our first evening there eating at Hyman’s and wandering the downtown market. The kids enjoyed it… the food was delicious… and we even got a free gift certificate to go back to Hyman’s (Dawn, remind me to give it to you before you leave for Seabrook in August) for wearing our stickers downtown. :)

The second day we were there, we had to go to the beach. I was hesitant because I didn’t want to miss anything in Charleston, but I had two children who had been promised a beach vacation and they were not about to wander around a hot downtown all day with the coast so very close by. I didn’t fight them much… as a matter of fact, I was having a really tough time not being on the beach immediately, too. So, we took breakfast (our only McDonald’s stop during our entire stay – a small miracle) to Folly Beach. It was gorgeous. The kids had a great time… and both of them shared with me that they NEVER wanted to go home. See video here (I have similar video of Jake, but I can't seem to get it downloaded properly... apparently I have issues with technology these days):


Brad and I had already began our typical vacation discussion… when are we moving to the beach? Which beach do we want to move to? Should we move to a city close to the beach, but not actually on the beach? Which city would offer us the best job opportunities? Which place would be best for the kids? What in the world would our parents do? Could we find a place that has direct flights from Lexington or Huntington or even Charleston for our families to use (and us as well?)? Could we really leave our families behind to move? All of these conversations are the same every year… always with the same answers… we don’t know. :) Still, they happen every year… and I’m slightly convinced that each and every year, we get a little bit closer to taking that leap. Will it be this year? Who knows? 

We spent that evening shopping at the Outlet Mall (which was only about a mile from our hotel), looking at the USS Yorktown from the riverfront, wandering around town and looking at old buildings, roads, and shops, and eating more seafood at A.W. Shuck’s (a fabulous place, I have to say). Then, while we would have been so happy to stay the rest of the week, we packed up our stuff, slept a few hours, and headed to Florida.  

The trip down was not bad at all. In fact, other than a few small towns with very low speed limits, it was pretty enjoyable. This is the part where I gush and brag about how awesome our kids are… sorry. They travel so well. Eight hours to Charleston, South Carolina. Then, we traveled eight more hours to Florida. The fighting was minimal… the sleeping was practically nonexistent, and yet, they were great. They are such wonderful babies (or big kids as they point out these days).  

Florida… Clearwater might have had the prettiest sand I’ve ever seen. The first night there, we ate dinner at Crabby Bill’s (where they had AWESOME crab legs that I kept making a mess with and hitting Cilla and Bret with from across the table) and then we watched a gorgeous sunset on the white sandy beach. Aww… how I miss it already. Cilla was, as always, adorably pregnant and Bret was, as always, making the kids wild. Well, no more wild than usual, really. It was still beautiful. Kids screaming (and getting in the water despite my threats) and still a beautiful sunset. 

The entire week was pretty much perfection. We had gorgeous weather. We got tan. YAY! We relaxed on the beach and the kids played in the waves. They collected seashells, got buried in the sand, and screamed at seagulls. Hmm. That doesn’t sound peaceful, does it? Well… let me tell you… these seagulls are unlike any I have seen before. They literally stole a sandwich out of Bailey’s hand as she was eating it. I’ve never seen more aggressive birds in my life. Of course, that just so happened to be the day that the waves were larger and stronger than normal. So, Bailey had already had a major wipeout on her boogy board (as in, I saw her feet and only her feet for quite some time before Brad was pulling her out of the water). To top it all off, that was the day that us girls all went to the spa to have pedicures and manicures and the guys went to golf. Wouldn’t you know that Bailey got locked in the bathroom at the spa and screamed as if she was being locked in a dungeon? Oh… it was funny. It was all funny, even if she didn’t think so.  She didn't think it was the best day of our vacation. 

Jake enjoyed the beach more than any other year, I think. Well, I don't know. He did love Hilton Head a lot. But, at least he has moved beyond his hatred of the sand. Brad and I were so worried when he was a little over a year old and we went on our first beach vacation. He sat in a chair or on a blanket the entire time we were at the beach. He didn't want to touch the sand because it would stick to him. Thankfully, he's outgrown that. We were temporarily terrified that we wouldn't be allowed to vacation at the beach. Jake did pull out his old chair stunt on our last day on vacation though. He knew we were planning to go home that day and he had decided that Superman and Batman were crying for him at home. They missed him so much that he just had to get home right then. We had plans to spend the morning on the beach before leaving town. Jake did not like those plans. So, he refused (loudly) to wear his swimming trunks. He then wore two t-shirts, to reinforce the message that he was not going to swim. And, finally, he made us carry him to a chair on the beach so that he wouldn't have to get in the sand. Picking your battles really came in handy that day. :) Instead of fighting with him, we just let him make his choices. Of course, he ended up in full clothing, soaking wet and sandy, because he couldn't resist the beach any more than the rest of us could. 

One of my favorite things about vacation is the good food. We ate seafood almost every single night of vacation - the only night that we didn't was the night that we cooked out at the beach for Cilla's birthday. That's also the same night that my phenomenally talented best friend took this year's family photos. I can't wait to show them off to you. I even got to play on the camera some too and took some of her pregnant belly. So adorable. 

And, just like last year, I got to mark off some list items with this vacation. I visited Charleston, South Carolina. I helped Cilla mark off an item on her list - going to play putt-putt golf. It was fun... and hot... and sweaty... but fun. The kids had a good time. We had a good time. And, I totally kicked butt. Yes, I'm bragging to Brad and Bret here... because it isn't often that I get to win. 

We saw dolphins, took a boat ride to Caladesi Island, and spent evenings eating ice cream, watching sunsets, and discussing everything under the sun. Ahhh... vacation. Why do you only come once a year? 

As a sidenote, I hope that I'm able to share some of my photos from our vacation soon. If not from my own camera, I know that Cilla is going to have some really awesome ones to share later. So... more to come... because I'm definitely not done with this vacation. lol. 

Until then... here are a few of my favorites from our cell phone cameras: 

T-ball... the end is near

Sunday, June 19, 2011
I'm sure you remember when I said that the kids were celebrating that school was out. I'm sure that you remember how Jake was so excited about not having to go back to school all summer (and how he thinks he never has to go again). 

Well, our t-ball season is coming to an end. We are in the full throes of our tournament... just one loss until we are done. While I hope that our loss doesn't come for a few more days, the kids aren't so sure. I explained to the kids a few days ago how the tournament works... and Jake celebrated like he did about school being over. 

He says he is never playing t-ball again. 

It. Is. Boring. That's the response I get from him every time I ask him about it. Oh. He loves to hit the ball. He'll even casually jog around the bases while we all scream our heads off for him to run faster. He smiles adorably when he makes it (usually because of a bobbled ball) and he celebrates like he hit a home run every time he crosses the plate. But, playing the outfield? Well, that's where he draws the line. There is no convincing Jake that it could be fun, even when he actually got to throw a ball in from the outfield to the infield a few weeks ago. He's just not interested in t-ball at all. He says it is just too boring. :) I kind of understand. 

Bailey, too, celebrated the end of the season. She was invited to play on the girls All Stars team again, but after much deliberation, we have declined. She was ready to not play t-ball again until (MAYBE) next spring. She had already said there would be no fall ball. Yet, she was tempted, for a brief moment, to play on the all girls team again... you know... where she could socialize with the other girls. As she threw a complete fit wanting to go to the pool instead of a ball game two weeks ago, I reminded her that there would be more games and more practices on days when she would want to be swimming if she chose to play All Stars. And that made up her mind about All Stars... in all of about two seconds. 

We are ending another chapter... perhaps for a season... perhaps for longer for one or both of our kids. Will there be t-ball games again in our future? Hmm... you never know... it is bittersweet for us. I certainly won't miss our schedules being tied down to one sport for so long, but of all the things our kids have been involved in, this is the one that we've probably enjoyed the most. We've made great friends... some that will probably last a lifetime. The kids have had wonderful experiences with their teammates, learning so many things (good things, like how to play on a team... and bad things, like how to spit sunflower seeds way too far). :) 

Who knows... maybe next year, Bailey will play softball... she loves to hit off a pitcher - and she can do it well. :) And, maybe, just maybe, Jake will change his mind about it being SO boring. We shall see.

More to come... about our vacation. I just have to get my camera back up to operating... you see, I dropped it in the sand and it now will not come on. :( 

The List

Thursday, June 9, 2011
As I reviewed my blog tonight, I realized that there are several things that I need to link to in order to "update" my list. I haven't met my goal of marking off 20 items on my list by May 1, 2011. In all honesty, I knew that it was probably going to be a push to do that... and given a few circumstances beyond my control, there were some things that I just couldn't get done (like camping or Habitat for Humanity). BUT... no excuses... and no guilt. And that's because I'm pretty thrilled with all that I did accomplish in the past year. I did accomplish completely marking off 13 items, and I started working on several other, longer-term projects. Yes. I am pleased.

I will spare you the long overview of the things on my list that got marked off... if you've been reading, you already know (and thank you for helping me a along the way). If you haven't read and are interested, you can totally check out my list and read more details there as you like. :)

It has truly been a fun journey to work on my list and I am so happy that I'm still eager to mark things off. When I first started working on "the list" I really worried that it would be one of those things that I would get tired of working on after a while. Fortunately, that's just not the case. It continues to drive me... to push me to accomplish things. I don't think about it constantly like I did when I first started my list. I have to admit that I was a little bit obsessed with it for a while. But, it does come in spurts... I will not think about it for weeks and then I will get into the mood to work on it and then I'll start planning things like crazy. Of course, when someone (like a good friend from high school) sends me a message saying that they have started a life list because of the one that I published, well, I just can't help but get excited... to be inspired to keep working on things... and to remember that little bubble of excitement that came from making my list to begin with! Thanks for sharing with me, my dear friend... I love to hear about your lists and to know that we are all working toward living lives to the fullest! 

So, you know what it means when I write a post about my list, right? I'm in "planning things like crazy" mode. :) Not really. It has been on my mind for a while, since I have been thinking about our summer plans and many of my items are seasonal... but I'm not in the obsessed mode. With that being said, I have manipulated our vacation plans to include a stop in Charleston, South Carolina, which just happens to be on my list. :) Convenient, huh? :) It truly is/was. 

I can't wait to share more about Charleston with you all... if you have suggestions of things that are must dos, please let me know! We will only be there for about 2 days, so we'll be cramming a lot in... and remember we'll have a 4 and 6 year old with us, too! :) Until then...

Coming up... Vacation :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Vacation... is only a few days away for us.

I can't tell you enough how much I love the beach. :)

So, when Cilla and Bret invited us to go with them, we were pretty excited to say yes. But, of course, there was lots to consider, including our hectic schedules and money, and all that. We hadn't really planned to take a vacation this year. It seems like we are on an accidental routine of taking a vacation every other year. Well, a BEACH vacation, that is. So, this year, we figured we'd be at home, spending time on the lake or at King's Island or some other stay-cation types of activities. We knew instantly that we wanted to go with Bret and Cilla, but we thought we wouldn't really be able to because we hadn't planned financially for it.

Thankfully, we worked it out. Our yard sale definitely helped (thank you for shopping to those of you who did). :) Once we had decided to go, I had it all planned out. I was going to buy us plane tickets to go (they were as cheap as driving with gas prices) and we were going to surprise the kids. Well... as fate would have it, the plane tickets went up the same day that I was going to buy them. Ugh. What to do... what to do... 15ish hours in a car with the kids. Ugh.

We contemplated and contemplated. Bret and Cilla were surely ready to uninvite us at some point. :)

Then, we decided to go. But, instead of having our traditional "get up as early as possible and drive as far as possible without stopping" strategy, we are opting for a "drive half way and stay" strategy. And, again, throwing everyone for a loop, we are driving OUT of our way to go to Charleston, South Carolina instead of driving the most logical way to Dunedin, Florida through Atlanta. Yes... we do realize how insane this probably sounds. But, we figure if we are going to have to stop and stay at about halfway anyway, we might as well go some place we want to visit and stay an extra day to check it all out (it's not THAT far out of the way). So, we leave this weekend for our "adventure." I keep calling it that because I know the kids aren't going to think it's all that great of an adventure when they have been in the car for about 6 hours. Then, they are going to be pissed. lol. But, maybe I can sell it to them... I did book a hotel in Charleston that has an indoor pool and a hot tub. Surely that will be enough to keep them excited about it. 

In all seriousness, I'm so excited about the entire trip. I have wanted to go to Charleston, South Carolina for years. I remember reading a book when I was in middle school that talked about Charleston (it was totally fiction), but ever since then, I've wanted to see it... to compare the real thing to the pictures in my mind. :) I'm even, oddly enough, excited about the trip there. I am looking forward to seeing the mountains... to seeing the ocean... to seeing all new things. I just simply cannot wait. 

Well, except that I have to do laundry and pack... and figure out what I need to go pick up at the store before we go... and you know... get the house ready for us to leave... 

Ugh... why does everything have to be such a job?! :) 

Oh well... I am not even thinking about the negative... because in just a few days, I will be able to see this...

...and I've been missing it. Be prepared for my post in a week or so about how I wish I could move to the beach. :) 

Summer... how I love thee...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Ah... summer... how I love thee... let me count thy ways... 

I could come up with 1,000 reasons. :) 

No... don't panic, I have not come up with 1,000 reasons to list. Yes, you can keep reading. :) 

This weekend, we celebrated Bret and Cilla's upcoming bundle of joy with a baby shower. Dawn and I'll be posting some pictures of this shower, along with lots of cute pics and details later on, but the theme was all things summery and rustic. It totally got me into this whole summer thing, as if the 90+ degree weather wasn't enough. 

So, yesterday (which will be two days ago by the time some of you read this), I fixed fresh lemonade and sat it out for my kids in my brand new lemonade pitcher with a spout. :) I also sat out some mason jars, too. And, I cleaned my house... really, really clean (except the office/sewing room/junk room/pit... that's going to take more time than I have in any given day). Then, I made a trip to the Bluegrass PRIDE to pick up my rain barrel that I purchased at half price through Pete's Deals (similar to Groupon, but specific to Lexington). I was so excited about this new purchase, that I just decided to go ahead and mow the grass. I swear, if it had not been for me getting tired and the kids wanting me to get them some food, I might have went ahead and dug up the portion of my yard that needs to be dug up to extend my garden. The summer gives me so many things to do... and so many things that I want to try... oh summer... can't you just stay a bit longer? 

We are getting a start on it though... Bailey and Jake have signed up for the summer reading program at our local library. We have one more regular season t-ball game (which we won't be at) and then we start the tournament. We leave for vacation in just a few short days (WOO HOO!), and what my kids would say is the most important thing... our pool membership is coming in very handy. :) 

Now, if I can only find a hammock and time to lay (or is it lie?) in it! :)